Dan Hugo
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Coffee in a Foreign Land

Coffee in a Foreign Land

Oct 04, 2021

I am visiting my parents in Phoenix during a “relocation gap” in Vegas, and so for what will end up being about five weeks (in about two more weeks) I have been living on and around coffee prepared in the ways of the house. A challenge, to be sure.

Here there is a Mr. Coffee drip brew machine. It works okay, though as mother recently discovered that ground coffee can sometimes include bonus sources of protein, she opted for whole beans and would attempt to shred them into submission with a one-speed blade grinder perhaps better used for unpleasant spices. This lead to frequent overflow of the filter basket as the grind was too fine (or, some of it was) which prevented the intended flow from existing as boiling water was injected at the top end.

On arrival I set about experimenting with grind settings in the Baratza Encore that has been my daily grind, literally, working far better than I had expected (given my still-novice-ish skillset) for all of my own coffee brewing experimentation. Here I settled on a grind setting of about 17 on the Encore hopper dial, which seems to give a reasonable brew without overflow. Too coarse and we get thin and flavorless, too fine and we get grounds overflowing in the best case, actual overflow and flooding of the countertop (or, now, the pain in which the coffee maker sits) in the worst.

Some time ago, in conversations with Spinn about working with them on their next iteration of their countertop centrifugal espresso machine with built-in grinder, I suggested that people should be able to experiment with pre-settings to learn what impact each adjustment has on flavor, acidity, mouth feel, etc. They disagreed, that pre-settings are all one needs to obtain the ideal cup as configured by the roaster, or maybe someone else. Someone who is not the person buying the beans and drinking the output. To me, knobs and switches are there to be fiddled with, and this has been only one minor example of same.

I am on the fence about breaking out the Moka pot and perhaps the Flair to make some rich, dark espresso (personally, I found a good Moka brew can come awfully close to the Flair, which to me comes awfully close to espresso I had in Rome more than once, if I may humble brag about my technique), as my parents are not drinking for flavor so much as my dad for the sake of the morning ritual and my mom for the caffeine that powers here through her days. They tend toward a half-half mix with decaf, which is most definitely a travesty. This is how life is sometimes.

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